Social networking boom continues in UK

29 June 2011

LONDON: Visitor numbers to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have reached a record high in the UK, new figures show.

UKOM, the official audience measurement body run by Nielsen, reported 33.9m netizens accessed Google during May 2011.

Facebook logged a comparative 26.8m, its highest-ever total, propelling the Web 2.0 property past Microsoft's collected MSN, Windows Live and Bing sites, which registered 26.2m.

While Facebook's membership was demonstrably skewed towards 18-34 year olds in 2009, since this date activity levels by 50-64 year olds has climbed 84%, against an overall rise of 41%.

Equally, the density of individuals aged at least 65 years old accessing the social network has surged 81%, meaning the profile of Facebook's typical user is closer to the whole online population.

"The growth in audiences to these social networks is now primarily being driven by the 50-plus age group," said James Smythe, UKOM's general manager.

"Just a few years ago, this group may have found itself out of place on these sites; now, on Facebook, for example, they account for more new adults visiting the site in the last two years than the under-50s."

Elsewhere, the analysis revealed microblogging site Twitter secured its strongest returns thus far in May 2011, on 6.1m, boosted by controversy concerning a superinjunction linked to footballer Ryan Giggs.

Business-orientated social network LinkedIn posted 3.6m on the same measure, improving 57% year on year.

As with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn both saw rising amounts of older consumers browsing their pages, the study added.

"It's becoming more commonplace for the over-50s to discuss topics online with people they do and don't know. For some brands, this can open up a new marketing channel," said Stephanie Hayden, a senior director at Nielsen.

"In addition, for all brands, the growing number of silver surfers on social networks, means these sites - as a consumer-insight tool - are becoming more and more representative of the total market."

Data sourced from Association of Online Publishers; additional content by Warc staff